Anthologies, Trail Mix, and Group Work, Oh, My!

When I first saw the assignment to write down everything that we ate over spring break, I’ll admit that I was a bit stunned. Why in the world would I have to keep a food journal for a class titled African American Literature? I talked to some of my classmates, friends and family about the assignment, and they all had similar thoughts.

I idly documented what I ate on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…I wasn’t putting forth any effort into what we call thinkING.  It was not until Thursday that I felt a light bulb go on.

What does the food journal, Call and Response, Angels of Ascent, and all of our texts for this class have in common? Teamwork. Our anthologies and other texts take a team of editors, writers, publishers, etc to come into existence. Similarly, our meals and food take a team of people in order to be available for consumption.

I eat a lot of trail mix. Quick breakfast? Trail mix. Snack? Trail mix. Too lazy to make dinner? Trail mix. It’s not my most healthy habit, but it’s kept me going through four years of college. I wrote down trail mix three or four times in my food journal. One of the main reasons that the snack is so convenient is because it is a mix of so many things. Nuts, berries, chocolate, fruits…there is a little bit of everything, and each element adds its own flavor into the mix. With the exception of raisins, the snack would not be complete without all of the elements. When I think about it, the amount of work that goes into each part of the mix is astounding. The nuts have to come from one place and one team of people and the chocolate from a separate place. This cycle goes on for each element. What if the almond farm refused to supply almonds? Well, we would have a boring and much less nutritious mix.

Call and Response has dozens of pieces and people who have worked together to create the anthology. As I looked at the cover and the contents page, I realized that the almost 2000 page anthology contains the hard work and art of hundreds of people. Thousands of hours of hard work went into the anthology It’s easy to fall into the thought that the author is the primary reason for the printed text. It is true that the creator of the actual text is a vital element, but the editors, copywriters, publishers, etc also play crucial roles. Much like the parts of a trail mix, the people involved in the creation of an anthology put their time, talent, and effort into creating something that is complex and interesting. The reason it is so fantastically rich is due to the fact that each voice is being heard in collaboration with each other.

From meeting with my group for the collaborative blog post yesterday, I’m seeing that our final product will be something like a trail mix, too. We each have exciting and new ideas that complement each other in a way that is already nothing short of inspirational.

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